Tuesday, December 24, 2002

christmas eve

With the Christmas spirit labouring to get my spirits up, I pushed the envelope and extended my cooking repertoire that was previously populated by fabaceous entrees with spinach dal. Turned out rather well, with the luck of the season.

The movie for the evening was my first Max Ophuls flick, called Lola Montès, the story of a woman who had many lovers all around Europe and ended up in an American circus selling her memories and kisses to the masses. Wasn't too keen on Ophuls to begin with and the film didn't help me much. Peter Ustinov's performance as the circus ringleader went satisfactorily over the top (as in previous movies I've seen him -- talented bombast). The opening credits had a terrible font and the only thing that piqued my interest in the film was the first 2/3 of it which utilized the limited confines of the performance area to tell stories using props (of course, being a filmmaker, Ophuls can cheat by changing locations for the flashbacks). Very much like the Firodiya skits we'd put together during my days at GCOEP.

For non-Puneites, an explanation of Firodiya is probably in order. This is an intercollegiate talent competition where each college presents an amalgam of cultural talent woven into a script or narrative, within a 45 minute frame (15 minutes are additionally provided for setting up the stage, props, light and sound). My college, GCOEP, had been a pioneer and trendsetter in this competition, redefining and establishing the rules and traditions of the contest, and there are a gazillion interesting stories of how previous performances had included innovative uses of the limited confines of the stage to tell stories or convey ideas. In my four years, I had a chance to be involved with some creative moments myself, and the experience has served as a reference matching quite a few movies I've watched since then (a majority of which have been musicals).

Back to Ophuls's last work. Apart from this interesting reference, the film meant nothing special for me. The last 1/3 crumbled into French narrative (I don't know the language and its lyrical musical nature also seems to convey a certain hilarious flamboyance, which is rather annoying). The dialogues were expectedly rather abstruse and indirect. Despite Ophuls's contribution to cinema, I'd have to classify this under "French movies that didn't mean much to me".

Since I couldn't make a midnight service, I attended the papal mass at St Peter's Basillica by proxy. His Lordship looked rather weak and his voice reminded me of Brando as Vito Corleone. Not a pretty analogy to have when you're praying.

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